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From the Desk of Dino Baskovic

Back to BASICs

Since social media makes us love computers so much, what if we spent all our online time programming instead of poking?

Imagine what all that collective computing power could do, if the world’s 2.5 billion internet users put down Facebook long enough to crowdsource the cure for cancer or the common cold? Every microprocessor, every person on the planet united for one common goal. The mathematical riddle to every major malady and societal maleficence, solved for ‘X’ within weeks.

Albeit remotely possible, it is possible. In fact, we started doing this years ago by letting our slumbering PCs search for extraterrestrial life and decode the human genome, a concept known as distributed computing. But it was latent, passive, powerful from a network perspective but inherently lazy. You weren’t hacking for the the good of mankind. You were having a beer while your Windows Me machine did the hacking for you. And look how well Windows Me turned out.

We spend an awful amount of time browsing the web, when perhaps we should be banding together by it. Global warming, poverty, water shortages, war all checked off the list by continental armies of citizen coders. SourceForge becomes the new Spotify while GitHub leaps over Google Play. It seems silly to fret over the perfect Instagram filter when you could be debugging the next sustainable energy solution on your smartphone. And last I checked, C was easier to learn than Chinese, not that it ever stopped the Chinese.

So, instead of pretending to be empowered consumers, we rebrand ourselves as social engineers, take the internet back to the command line and actually build something worth sharing. Maker Faire for the mobile masses. And maybe, just maybe, tackle that whole world peace thing.